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Sister Carrie'. Analysis of the Life Path of the Main Character

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The big city has always meant strong possibilities. The development of industry, art, and culture also influenced the development of cities. Great number of entertainments and possibilities always attract people from small towns or villages. Very often, being rather naive, they think that the city will greet them and suggest a great number of possibilities. However, the world of a big city turns out to be very cruel, with a severe rivalry, where no one is happy that some new people come in order to deprive its inhabitants of their chances.

That is why very often, people from villages become broken and lost. In the best case, they return home empty-handed. In the worst case, they get lost in a city, and their names become forgotten. Being so tragic, this issue could not but interest some writers who tried to investigate this question and devote their works to this topic.

The motif of a provincial, which comes to conquer a big city, has always been very popular among writers of different ages. Theodore Dreiser is one of these writers. Being known for his ability to create the real image of a person who seeks better fate, Dreiser also touched the issue of a provincial in a big city. His work, Sister Carrie, can be taken as a great example of the literature of this sort.

The main character of this story is Caroline Member. She was born in Wisconsin. However, this city was too rural and small for her ambitious person, that is why she decided to move to Chicago, where her sister Minnie lived. Full of naive expectations and having her own image of life in a big city, she catches a train. However, one very important meeting should be mentioned as it influenced Carolines life greatly. While going to Chicago, she meets Charles Drouet, who is a salesman. He likes her very much, though she disappears.

Having arrived at her sisters place, the main character starts to realize that everything is not so simple as she imagined. Her relatives are not so happy to see her, as it is very difficult to earn money. Minnie is a middle-aged and disillusioned woman. She is a housewife, while her husband is a simple worker who has a very difficult and low paid job. That is why the necessity of earning money becomes obvious to Caroline.

All her life in the city can be divided into two periods. The first one can be called the period of a constant search. Understanding that she cannot live at her elder sisters account, she starts working. She runs a machine in a shoe factory. However, from Carries phrase, “it’s pretty hard. I don’t like it” (Dreiser) readers can understand that it is not that type of work she expected. Nevertheless, her sufferings end soon as she falls ill and loses job.

The life in the city turns out to be a complete disappointment to her, and she is ready to give up as she does not want to be a burden for her sister. However, Drouet finds her. Still being in love with her, he suggests her money and a place to live. He does not attract Carrie, though she accepts his favors as she wants to live in the city.

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She is ready to marry him however, Drouet is not very interested in it. Moreover, he is the man who acquaints her with Hurstwood. Being rich, he seems for Carrie to be a good choice, and she runs away with him. This period of Carries life can be associated with poverty, and Carries desire to escape, trying to do it with the help of rich men. Having realized the harsh reality of a big city, she understands that her beauty is the only way to become successful..

The second period of Carries life in a big city can be associated with her success. Having escaped with Hurstwood from Chicago, she has a comfortable life in New York. However, not for a long time. Hurstwoods business collapses, and they have no money to survive. Poverty again threats Carrie. Keeping in mind her success in amateur play, she again tries to act on the stage.

This decision changes her life. She becomes well known and successful, and she does not depend on men anymore. She leaves Hurstwood, who is not interesting in her now and lives her own life. However, she is not happy. She has not that great interest and lust for life, which young Carrie had.

Taking into account the peculiarities of Carries life, it is possible to compare her character at the beginning and at the end of the story. It is obvious that she changes greatly. Having achieved fame and success, she was not that naive young girl as she was at her first arrival in Chicago. She understood the rules of the cruel society of a city. That is why she tried to get the most out of her relations with men. It is possible to say that she was not in love with them. Neither Drouet nor Hurstwood attracted her.

They were just remedies for her to remain in the city and to become successful. This statement can be proved by the fact that she leaves Hurstwood easily, having understood that he does not reach now. She is not interested in his fate, and he dies, being forgotten and absolutely alone. Drouet has the same importance for Carrie.

She meets him at her height however, he is dull for her. She does not remember what it was he who helped her, and who gave her a chance to stay in Chicago. Moreover, Carrie does not remember her sister, though she owes her so much. She does not send her money or invite her. These facts show how Carrie changed. She was not interested in people anymore. The city altered her.

Having analyzed the data, it is possible to come to certain conclusions. The novel Sister Carrie by Theodor Dreiser is an attempt to show how a big city alters people. It is impossible to remain the same under the influence of its great power. A person either breaks and returns home or survives and becomes cold, provident, and unsatisfied with his life. Carries life is the best evidence to this statement. Having achieved success, she is not satisfied with her life.

There was no real feeling in her life, as all men were just remedies for her to conquer the world. Having achieved everything she wants, Carrie does not know what to do with it as she is still not happy. “In your rocking-chair, by your window dreaming, shall you long, alone. In your rocking-chair, by your window, shall you dream such happiness as you may never feel” (Dreiser).

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Sister Carrie’. Analysis of the Life Path of the Main Character. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
“Sister Carrie’. Analysis of the Life Path of the Main Character.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022,
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Sister Carrie’. Analysis of the Life Path of the Main Character [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2023 Jan 31]. Available from:
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